Note: Mick Grey's brother Gerry is Chairman of Shotokan Karate Centres England (SKCE) and has been a champion of Karate-Do since the early 1970's...
"Monday January 4th 1974 was a milestone year when my late brother Mick Grey established the Wellingborough Club, then known as Queensway SKC and part of the KUGB. There were 90 odd people who turned up for that 1st session then later in the week we opened another Club in Kettering where another 80 people turned up. My brother left a few years later to return south where he had been responsible for establishing many of the Clubs that existed in the Slough area. I took over the operation of the Wellingborough Club around 1978/9, and have remained ever since."
"My introduction to Shotokan Karate was in the early 1970’s through my late younger brother Mike Grey who was at the time a Shodan. My very successful football career was unfortunately, or fortunately with benefit of hindsight, ended by a serious spinal injury forcing early retirement at the age of 30. Mike who was running the successful Slough area clubs decided in 1973 to relocate to Kettering near me and established clubs in Wellingborough and Kettering. I joined him at training ‘just to help me keep fit’ but I quickly realised the potential karate training offered especially for the over 30’s. The Wellingborough Club which I took over a few years later is still operating to this day which makes me very proud.
In the mid 70’s after a brief encounter with competitions, there were no categories in those days for veterans, I found myself appointed to the KUGB national executive, as their Press and Public Relations Officer and it opened up opportunities for me dealing with the media of the day and to help improve the general public awareness of the concept that karate was not just fighting but required great skill and ability to perform at the highest level. During the 70’s and 80’s there were some great champions, who came through the KUGB system, which quite possibly will never be surpassed...
This period also gave me greater access to Enoeda Sensei, one of the all-time Shotokan greats and together endeavoured to improve the potential spectacle that could be created through producing good championships. During the next two decades I became responsible for directing KUGB’s national championships, three European championships and best of all the 1990 JKA world championships held here in the UK. I was enormously proud to be appointed as the Director of the World championships particular as it was a partnership between the JKA and KUGB.
I was immensely honoured when in 1981 I was invited by Enoeda Sensei to undertake a one to one interview of Nakayama Sensei during his visit to the UK, and, subsequently to be accorded similar opportunities with Sensei Kase, Enoeda and Shirai...." Gerry Grey SKCEngland.co.uk SKCE is dedicated to traditional Shotokan Karate
From left to right: Senseis Mark Tetsola, Peter Welsh, Gerry Grey, Eric Pich and Darren Welsh
part TWO: NAKAYAMA SENSEI
Note: The author of this site was privileged to be present (as a fidgeting infant Karateka) at this interview with Sensei Masatoshi Nakayama, conducted by SKCE Chairman Gerry Grey, at Crystal Palace in 1981....
GERRY GREY: In May 1981 Sensei Nakayama visited this country along with the World Champions the Japan National Kumite Team. On the Thursday before the KUGB National Championships, Sensei Nakayama gave a special course at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre for which the support was so astonishing that just the black belts alone absolutely packed the vast main hall area. Before this course I was very honoured to be able to conduct a unique one to one interview the great man through special arrangements kindly made by the late Enoeda Sensei.
The following are extracts of the original 1981 interview giving some of Professor Nakayama’s philosophy towards Karate with some slight changes in emphasis brought about by subsequent alternative philosophy that we now adopt.
GG: Sensei you have now been Chief Instructor for the JKA for about 25 years and travelled all over the world. What would you say has been the most noticeable improvement in Karate and what has been the most disappointing ?
MN: The greatest improvement is the worldwide support I have received, including that from Enoeda Sensei and his British and European students has been most helpful towards world Karate expansion. My two worries are:-
A lot of people adopt only one style of fighting and there is not enough competition with other styles of fighting to learn some of their ways.
To judge the winner or loser of a competition now requires greater skills because it has become more difficult to be able to judge the subtle difference between competitors with their improved techniques and skills.
GG: Sensei, the sports media are of the opinion that there are already too many Olympic sports. Do you think Karate will ever achieve Olympic status ?
MN: If we could join the Olympics we would be happy and we must all therefore strive towards this.
GG: Sensei, is there a special message that you would give the British Instructors and Karateka ?
MN: Trust everyone according to Mr Enoeda’s way, examples and standards in all Karate can be learnt from him and this will ensure a good future for Karateka of Britain. Great Britain and other nations in Europe are very respectful towards him. Also it is now most important not just to ask JKA but to seek options and advice of all the organisations in Europe and the world to ensure the correct progress of expansion. Each organisation must help others in all ways.
GG: Sensei, for you what are the most important aspects of Karate ?
MN: It is important is to practice Kata, Kumite and Kihon (basics) equally and not to concentrate on just one. Without all three there is no Martial Art.
GG: Sensei, would Karate be better off without sports Kumite ?
MN: Sports Karate has now been going for about 25 years and I well remember many years ago when I decided to allow competition, people disagreed with me and many said that competitors would lose their spirit in order to get points, and lose control. There are important aims we must observe to keep Karate as a Martial Art:-
Practice movements and physical exercise.
Practice Martial Art as a means of self-defence.
Competitors must exercise the full spirit of Karate without losing control.
GG: Sensei, what are the basic principles for Karateka to follow in their training?
MN: Concentrate on learning and improving your Kihon, Kata and Kumite. To develop any one of these without the others is to lose the true meaning of Karate.
GG: Sensei, in this violent world what would you say karate should teach young people because it is a Martial Art requiring great control ?
MN: Ultimate aim in the Art lies not in winning but to build the character of the individual and Karateka should never fight outside of training and competition.
Every day before performance or training we should chant and absorb;
‘Cultivate the spirit of perseverance, respect propriety, refrain from impetuous and violent behaviour’.
GG: Sensei, what are the basic principles to follow in learning Kata ?
MN: In Kata it is most important not to learn advanced Kata too quickly because the knowledge learnt from lower grade Kata’s will greatly help your performance of high grade Kata’s.
For example, first learn Bassai Dai for strength followed by Jitte for stance and balance. The two Kata’s will help you understand and perform Sochin.
GG: Sensei, what are your feelings regarding competition or sports Kumite ?
MN: It is important for Karateka to remember that correct sporting Karate spirit can never be achieved without first learning properly your Kihon, Kata and basic Kumite. Kihon will help you to improve your Karate techniques, Kata your flow of movement and combination of techniques and Kumite your timing and distance. Do not try sports Karate until you have trained sufficiently in these very important aspects of Karate.
" I would love to hear from anybody who has history and/or media to share relevant to the securing of Mick's legacy as champion of Karate-Do in the UK and abroad. Visitors can comment on posts or get in touch directly. " Best wishes Matt Grey